Eurovision 2021 is by no means a business-as-usual event. Coronavirus restrictions have changed the way the Contest is happening this year, and there’s no place more obvious than in the on-site press centre.
But if you are wondering what the press centre is like this year, read on!
The first thing I should say is that I don’t have anything to compare this to – this is my first time at a Eurovision press centre.
The centre adjoins the main Rotterdam Ahoy Arena, and is housed in several very large rooms. I think that these were tennis courts on the last time I visited Ahoy (for the annual Rotterdam Open tennis championship in early 2020).
In the rooms, there are many tables for journalists and fan media to work from, as well as a room for Meet & Greets and Press Conferences (all done with social distancing).
The space was designed to hold more than 1500 people for 2020, but this year, only 500 can be accredited. While I was there today, I would reckon there were less than 100 people.
Everyone there is allocated a table that they can use (but not change). I was seated at a table alone – a good 7 or 8 metres away from anyone else. Every table has not just a tub but a bucket of sanitiser wipes. (Sadly not Eurovision branded). Everyone wears a mask as they move around, but they can remove this while seated at their desks. To get in, everyone needs to have a negative Covid test.
Occasionally, production staff pass through – for example, I spied Executive Producer Sietse Bakker. Elena from Cyprus came in after her Meet and Greet, but only to speak to the Wiwiblogs team.
The rehearsals are shown on big screens (which I cannot photograph to show you), each of which is rewarded with applause. Extra special performances get a cheer!
There are also Eurovision branded furnishings, like these bean bags. This isn’t the official Eurovision branding for 2021, but a city branding that can be seen all over Rotterdam (more of that in another blog soon).
One of the ‘Tiny Houses’ (as they are known) which will be in the postcards this year is also there (with cordons around it so we don’t touch anything).
There is also a stand for Moroccan Oil, one of this year’s sponsors. But today, this was empty – let’s assume it will come to life later in the week.
So far, I would say the atmosphere is friendly and work-a-day – mostly folk getting on with the roles they are there to do. Maybe this will change as the week goes on.
If you want to know some more, it’s also worth reading this article by ESC Insight.